Brooke Randolph, an adoption specialist with MLJ Adoption Services in Indianapolis, Indiana, was asked about the struggles and rewards of adoption. "There is so much loss wrapped up in adoption that it is unfair to ask a child to be thankful," she said. So many times we forget that children in foster care are hurting; we provide them love, attention, activities, food, clothing, warmth, education...what reason would they have to be unhappy? Maybe it's because at the end of the day, they still yearn for their parents or familiar caregiver. They might miss their school or their friends or even their bed. The thought of moving on from foster care to adoption into a new family might seem like the light at the end of the tunnel, but in reality it strikes fear into the hearts of most children. What if the new placement doesn't work? What if the new parents don't like them, or put them into situations similar to those from which they were removed? Especially for older children who are well aware of the struggles adoption may or may not bring, it is a time fraught with fear and stress.
At A Kid's Place, the moment a child leaves our facility we technically "lose" the ability to keep in touch and know how that child is doing. Sometimes we are gifted with a Christmas card depicting a happy family unit around the Christmas tree; one time we received a family picture of everyone in matching pajamas! We've seen Easter photos, first-day-of-school pictures snapped by the front door, and sometimes even a glimpse of a school portrait. We've even stumbled on children out in public, always surprised when they run up and embrace us. But more often than not, we hear nothing and just remain hopeful that they are doing well.
This week we received pictures of "our" children in their new adoptive home. They look happy, and are well dressed and smiling. We scanned the backgrounds, taking in the well-appointed bedrooms, noting tiny fingernails brightly painted pink, seeing healthy foods stocked in the pantry. These are gifts to us and are the rewards we take humbly and gratefully whenever they come our way. We also received a gift of words from an adoptive parent who shared pictures of her son dressed up for a school dance; these words shed a spotlight on why we do what we do:
"I can't even describe how happy I am to have been a part of this. Just one of a million more memories to build on. My cup runneth over."
As always, it is our hope that children placed into adoption have many reasons to be thankful.